Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in a meeting with the public that the country has seen no benefits from the nuclear deal that several world powers and Iran hammered out last year, local media reported.
The nuclear deal was brokered by the country’s president, Hassan Rouhani, and his reformist allies, which helped them make big gains in the last election for Iran’s new parliament. But the ongoing row between Rouhani and Khamenei shows deep divisions at the top over how far and how fast the country should open up to the world, with conservatives looking to sow distrust among the population for the reformists’ agenda of liberalization.
Iranians of all walks of life have become growingly frustrated with the slow pace of change in the country’s economic outlook since some sanctions began being removed from January. Khamenei echoed the voices of several factions in the country which warned that this would happen during the negotiations with the West.
The report quoted Khamenei as saying: “Weren’t the supposed sanctions lifted to change the life of the people? Is any tangible effect seen in people’s life after six months?”
The top cleric also said that sanctions were supposed to be lifted swiftly under the deal. “But now the issue of a gradual lifting of sanctions has been said – why?”
“Our experience on the action plan substantiated the pointlessness of negotiations with the Americans, their non-adherence to their commitments and the need to stick to a distrustful view of US promises,” IRNA reported Khamenei as saying.
“Were the cruel sanctions not supposed to be removed to see its [positive] impact on the people’s lives? Wouldn’t the government have been able to accomplish a great deal so far if it hadn’t been for the US non-compliance with its commitments?” he asked rhetorically.
The supreme leader, whose power trumps that of President Rouhani, can alter the political outlook if he feels the presidency is acting out of bounds, as happened in the previous presidency of Ahmadinejad when he was sidelined in his last year of office.